Birthdays Rock

rock climbing birthday party obstacle course

Mr. Star Wars has an August birthday– in South Carolina. That rules out any outdoor party unless it is swimming. We tried an army swim party and ran into pop up thunderstorms, so we were on the hunt for an indoor party location this year. After attending my niece’s totally cool rock climbing party at a lovely, indoor, air conditioned spot, Mr. Star Wars thought that would be fun.

My niece lives 4 states away from us, so I could not use the same place. I was able to find an indoor rock climbing location close to our house that would host a children’s birthday party. It met all of my criteria for a party facility: air conditioning, a dedicated area and staff for our party only (no mixing with the general public), and a flat fee (no surcharge for outside cakes or other weird costs). It was also a great activity for an older group. Mr. Star Wars is turning 9. He is not that old, but we are moving into a more “mature” party theme. In fact, I would not plan a party like this unless the guests are at least 8 or 9 years old.

rock climbing birthday invitation

The Invitation

  • I used a site called Swanky Press to order the invitations. I found lots of rock climbing invitation choices through a Google search, but many had cartoony stick figures on them, which I thought looked too babyish. Once I ordered, I received an e-mailed proof within 2 days. I had to make one edit, and they turned the correction around in a day. The invitations arrived at my door in about a week. 
  • I also ordered matching gift enclosure cards, which I attached to the party favor bags. Coordinated thank you notes are available too.

rock climbing birthday party wall

The Location

  • From my limited indoor rock climbing experience, there seem to be two options at rock climbing facilities. Kids will either hook up to an auto belay system, which is like a pulley that lets you come down the wall on your own. Or, kids do boulder climbing on much shorter walls, and the kids jump down onto mats. For my son’s party, we did boulder climbing on shorter walls in a room dedicated to our party. We had two staff members who led games that required the kids to work around the walls. The staff members provided instruction while kids climbed, and they “spotted” for safety too.
rock climbing birthday party autobelay

At my niece’s birthday, the kids climbed tall walls using auto belays.

  • Whichever kind of location you have, make sure that there is enough space that most of your party guests can be climbing at the same time. If kids are standing around waiting for a turn, it gets chaotic. Based on our experience as a guest and as the party host, I would limit the party size to no more than 10 kids. 8 kids is probably ideal.

rock climbing birthday party

The Waiver

  • Parents will be required to complete a waiver in order for their child to participate in the climbing. We mailed the waiver with our invitation and asked parents to bring the completed form to the party. Some rock climbing locations have an online waiver that can be completed ahead of time.
  • Missing or incomplete waivers slow down the party. If parents will be carpooling to the party, make sure they understand the importance of having the completed waiver. A child will not be allowed to participate without that thing signed by a parent!

rock climbing birthday cake

The Food

  • Mr. Star Wars wanted chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. No problem. I ordered my favorite grocery store birthday cake. This year, we ordered a round cake with orange trim (to match the invitations). The grocery store added a few candy rocks, but it was very simple.

rock climbing birthday snack

  • I picked up orange and dark grey plastic dip bowls at Target a few weeks back. They have funky sides that look like the handholds at the indoor rock climbing places. Personally, I would never use these dip bowls for entertaining because the colors are totally obnoxious, and the dip bowls are pretty hideous. That is probably why they were on the sale shelf. However, they were perfect for a rock climbing themed party. I wanted to fill them with GORP, but Mr. Star Wars wanted something with cookies. I made a trail mix of two kinds of mini Oreo’s (white and black), mini Chips Ahoy, animal crackers, and small pretzels.

rock climbing party favor bags filled

The Party Favors

  • I ordered net black shower bags from Paper Mart.
  • We filled the bags with a stick of rock candy, Pop Rocks, and a small candy container that had chocolate rocks in it.
  • I attached small key chain caribeners to the filled bags and added our small gift tags that said, “9 Rocks!” I found the caribeners at a local outdoor shop, but I have seen them at Party City or online.

rock climbing party favor bagsWhat are other good party themes for kids who are older… but not that old?

May the Force Be With You

      

It started out as a Jedi bowling birthday party and turned into a Star Wars sleepover. For my son’s 8th birthday, we had three friends meet us at the local bowling alley. We then took the boys home and gave them their Jedi costumes. After the boys finished beating the snot out of each other Jedi training, we served hamburgers, ice cream sundaes, and topped off the evening watching the original Star Wars movies.

The Invitation: These were tricky. Star Wars logos and characters are licensed, so it is almost impossible to find a tasteful blank Star Wars themed invitation. There are some out there, but they looked cheap to me and usually had the Star Wars Lego characters. I ended up buying blank cardstock and designed the invitation on my computer. I Googled the Star Jedi font and downloaded it for free. Search Google images for things like lightsaber or Darth Vader to paste into the invite. I used wording on the invitation like, “In a Galaxy Not Too Far Away” and “Journey Begins” and “Regrets to the Jedi Master.”

The Jedi Outfit: When I visited my sewing sister this summer, she set me up on her sewing machine, and I actually made the Jedi robes myself! If you can sew a straight line, you can do these. I will say you need a lot of fabric (which can be expensive), so I was glad my son wanted just 2 or 3 friends. Our local karate school gave us the white karate belts. We made the lightsabers from pool noodles. I followed directions that I found on Pinterest, which were clear and easy. My children did most of the handle work themselves. FYI– blue and green lightsabers are the good side of the Force; red is the Dark Side.

      

The Tablescape: Sewing sister came through on this one too. She forwarded a slumber party idea to me that showed how to use twin bed sheets to make your rectangular dining table look like a made up bed. I found the Star Wars sheets at Target for about $20. These are NOT Egyptian cotton, so if you choose to use them on your regular bed after the party, you may want to wear a rash guard with your pajamas. If you watch the original Star Wars movie for food scenes (there are not too many), they tend to eat out of tupperware looking things. I saw the travel coffee mugs in the $1 aisle at Target and thought they were perfect. I downloaded the napkin/light saber rings and directions from this website.

    

The Mos Eisley Sundae Bar: You find so many good things in that $1 aisle at Target. I found the silver buckets, the grey bins, and the grey bowls during a recent trip. I wanted all of the food containers to have a sort of future/space age feel to them. We set out ice cream toppings in black (Crushed Oreos and Thin Mints), brown (chocolate sprinkles), grey (M&Ms), and green (M&Ms) colors. I sort of copied the ice cream sundae bar from my niece’s birthday party.

The Mos Eisley Breakfast Bar: I went with the future/space age thing again. In the Empire Strikes Back movie where Luke eats on Dagobah and meets Yoda, he eats something that sort of looks like a dog biscuit but is probably a freeze dried jerky kind of thing. I thought granola bars and mini cereal boxes would fit in with that type of food. I also served vanilla yogurt in mini tupperwares with some fresh fruit topping choices. The yogurt was an homage to that blue/green smoothie type drink Luke poured himself while at dinner with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru near the beginning of Star Wars. You may be wondering how I am able to recall so many details of the original Star Wars movies. I’ll just say that I am very good at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and leave it at that.

The Party Favors: The guests took their Jedi outfits home as the party favors. They also took the travel coffee mugs too.

Tonka Birthday Party

I think it is mandatory for all little boys to want a construction or tool party at some point. My son was no exception. He had a real tool thing going when he was little. For his second birthday, we threw a construction and tool party that was a great toddler party. But– stay tuned– because I am also including a variation to this party for older kids (and by “older” I mean up to adult aged kids) at the end of the post. This is another PB (pre-blog) party, so my photo choices are limited.

The Invitations: I had two options for the invitations. We ended up using an invitation that showed a boy and his tool belt, but I also had some dump truck invitations that I included in the picture above. In fact, I still have them (in their original box). There are ten in the box plus a sample; I will MAIL THEM to the follower who posts a comment with the best idea for an activity, party favor, decoration, or even why you are thinking about throwing a tool/construction party. I will post the winner on Sunday, August 5 with information about how to receive this ONE OF A KIND PRIZE. I am quite certain the competition will be fierce. Psst, Aunt B, this is your chance.

The Activity: For weeks, I saved paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, cereal boxes and other recyclable materials. I purchased Elmer’s glue, craft sticks, wooden dowels, foam stickers, wood blocks, foam blocks, and any other materials I thought could be used in building. I set up two low tables in our basement and covered them with butcher paper. I set all the materials on the tables, so the guests could walk up and create.

The Party Favor: The Dollar Store had plastic tool kits. I put the tools in a Lowe’s canvas tool belt and wrote guest names in Sharpie pen across the front. We tied these on the guests as they arrived, so they could use the tools while building with the recyclable materials.

The tool belt pictured was a birthday gift, but the Lowe’s belt party favor looked similar.

The Cake: I used a bakery in New Orleans for this one. They created a rocky terrain with icing then set construction vehicles onto the cake.

The Food: We served nuts and bolts (Chex Mix), Fritos, and small sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The food choices were not anything super exciting, but I borrowed all of my son’s dump trucks, lined the truck beds with coordinating paper napkins, and used those as the serving dishes. That was a good little detail!

The Gift: My parents gave my son a play workbench, which is one of the best I have ever seen. For a little bit bigger child, a great gift is the Real Construction sets.

The Older Party: This past year, my parents won a “Tonka Party” at a charity auction. A construction company had donated a trip to the site where they keep all of their equipment. My mom booked the party over Christmas when all of the grandkids, kids, and grandparents would be together. She invited some other family friends too. The party included rides on the big equipment like the back hoes, pulling the air horn on the dump truck (believe me, the adults lined up faster than the kids), and climbing around on the front loaders and other big trucks. I am not sure if you have a local construction site willing to do this, but it sure was something different. My mom made sack lunches for all of the guests and served Bloody Mary’s for the big kids and hot chocolate for the little kids.

Slip N Slide Birthday Party

This was a very easy party to host. My son has a summer birthday, and any outdoor parties need to be water-related. If you read the pirate and army birthday posts, you know about our heat dilemmas. We had the Slip N Slide party when my son turned three, and it was a big hit. Unfortunately, the party was BB (before blog), so I do not have very many detail pictures to share. What fun outdoor summer birthdays have you hosted– or attended?

The Invitations: This was one of the first invitations I ordered from Fine Stationery and printed on my home computer. I will admit that I lifted phrases from the samples on the website. The invitation said, “Slip, Slide Wheeee! (name’s) Turning Three!” I had an e-mail and phone number for any guests who “could not slip by.” The invitation also asked guests to wear a swimsuit and bring a towel.

The Water Activities: By August, almost all of the water toys and equipment are on sale at stores like Target, Walmart, and KMart. I bought two Slip n Slides, an inflatable pool with a basketball hoop, a plastic baby pool, a crazy sprinkler, and water toys like buckets and small watering cans. We filled water balloons too. We set everything up in the backyard. We did not have any organized activities, and guests just played in the water.

The Party Favors: We ordered these crazy sea creature swim goggles from Oriental Trading. They looked great in the picture on the website but were pretty poor quality. The straps broke, and the goggle part did not fit on the face well. I was not expecting Olympic grade goggles or anything, but I thought they would at least last through the party. I would not order them again.

The Food: Snacks were pretty minimal.  We set out bowls of pretzels and Goldfish. We served a birthday cake with bright colors on it. I do usually order our birthday cakes from the grocery store because I love grocery store birthday cakes! I think the super sugar frosting they use is fabulous.